Teenage queen Marie Antoinette was blamed for the suffering of the French proletariat. Julia Gillard was blamed for just about everything.
Few women make it in the top job. In University of Canberra PhD candidate Joanna Richards' lifetime - 25 years - just 28 female heads of government have lasted more than two years in the role.
Two themes have emerged in the year she's been studying how female leaders fall out of power: catastrophe and corruption. And not on the part of the women.
"We do have a lot of research that shows women are overwhelmingly promoted into positions of chaos, when everything's going wrong," Ms Richards said.
"One of the prime ministers of Haiti got the job literally after three hurricanes hit, and obviously when everything wasn't better within a month or two people blamed her.
"Environmental circumstances are used to alleviate the responsibility of men but they're not used to alleviate the responsibility of female leaders."
On corruption, she said: "We see a lot of women investigated for corruption or punished for corruption but that's not because they're more corrupt, it's because women are held to a higher ethical standard".
"So when they transgress they're punished more severely."
Ms Richards aims to write her thesis, Modern Marie-Antoinettes: Corruption and Catastrophe as Catalysts for the Chop, by the end of 2019.
The project will build on her Honours thesis, also completed at the University of Canberra, in which she found 213 of 311 negative interruptions made in the senate over the past decade were directed towards female senators.
Her PhD will focus on female heads of government and use case studies and semiotic analysis to explore her hypotheses: that women are more often blamed for many-handed problems, and that a male leader's responsibility will be diffused in difficult circumstances, while a woman's will be accentuated.
Ms Richards said her aim was to make invisible barriers visible. The push to get women into positions of leadership neglected to ask what happens when they reached the top spot, she said.
"Julia Gillard was literally the most successful legislator Australia ever had in terms of legislation and actually getting it through, so the fact that we had a female prime minister that was that successful in that respect, and yet we still think Australia isn't ready for another female prime minister, it all comes back to how that ended and what her term was like," she said.
"We can do all we want with quotas, we can do all we want with leadership mentoring and these fast tracks, but there's no point working on a road if no cars want to drive on it."
Ms Richards said her work was sometimes discounted before it was properly outlined - as soon as she described it as "feminist research".
The scrutiny ensured her research was vigorous, she said.
Ms Richards said recommendations would come later. First, the problem had to be diagnosed.
"A lot of the time, especially for women in these positions, until you have a term and until you've got evidence to say this is actually happening, it's hard for women to talk about their experiences," she said.
"Once someone brings them all together and says 'no, this is happening worldwide, this is a thing and not something you're making up in your head' ... the world kind of gaslights you as a woman."